Lyndon B. Johnson was fortunate that he was in the White House in an era where those meeting with him didn't whip out smartphones the second they stepped out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to let the world know about the president's tendency to use coarse and vulgar language behind closed doors that biographers politely called "colorful language."
Whether LBJ would ever refer to another country in terms of it being a toilet is debatable. What isn't debatable was his ability to play hard ball to make deals. It is what got the Civil Rights Act of 1965 passed. Who cared what he may have uttered behind closed doors and about whom or even about large swaths of people? What counts is that it ended up improving the world we know.
There is no defense for blanket statements or even using vulgarity to make a point. At the same time no one is doing anyone a favor by focusing all of the attention on the use of one word by going as far as demanding the White House produce tapes, if they exist, of the gathering.
For want of a better term, it was a teachable moment that got lost in all the sound and fury that signifies nothing. None of the chest pounding, howling, and teeth gnashing has produced immigration reform.
Assume that President Trump said what it's reported that he said. I've got bad news for you. Many of us can trace our lineage to countries at one time that arguably the majority of people in this country thought could best be described as a toilet.
If you have any Irish DNA, as an example, Ireland for a longtime was looked down upon by not just England but many in the United States.
Does that qualify as racism? Not by how the word is defined in terms of one racial group in power using its authority to keep other racial groups out of power. Is it bigotry? Perhaps, given it is defined as a severe mindset that is accompanied often times by discriminatory behavior. Is it prejudice? Absolutely given it is defined as a person who negatively prejudges another person or group without getting to know their beliefs, thoughts, or circumstances.
It matters with what you are dealing with so you can go about the right way of changing behavior.
You tackle prejudice with education, persuasion, and literally breaking bread.
This is as good a time as any to remind people that Trump didn't start the fire.
You should understand that if you have any length of time residing in a California where immigrants - documented and undocumented - have been a fabric of our lives and economy for generations. It goes beyond the dawn of statehood when California was part of Mexico and it was American citizens who were what many today would classify as illegals settling and/or hunting-working here without approval of the Mexican government.
The dismal failure of the federal government over the past 40 years to reform, streamline, and enforce adopted policies regarding immigration has led to Sacramento trying to deal as pragmatically as possible with what some in recent years have called an "invasion."
Most of the undocumented immigrants who are breaking their backs as integral parts of our state's economy should - and in many cases do - have access to various services. Education is one area specifically where we are spending billions of dollars investing in undocumented youth. It would be an extreme waste of money, resources, and talent to simply show them the door.
We have no working national solution because both the Republicans and Democrats have talked a good game but when push comes to shove are unwilling to compromise positions to make deals that would start the country down a meaningful path of immigration reform.
Trump, who it can be said is neither fish nor fowl when it comes to being labeled as a liberal or conservative has baggage of his own packing. But he has one attribute that could solve the decades-old immigration donnybrook. He sees himself as a deal maker as do even his harshest biographers. That's not saying his deal making process is politically correct, reasonable or even civil by most standards. But that is what he functions best at doing.
So instead of everyone tripping over each other wasting time and energy to express that they're enraged because of uncouth remarks, they should be persuading Trump by noting the Dreamers are from the United States and they've benefited from being raised as Americans and as such are primed to be productive and contributing citizens for our economy.
They are not coming from a "toilet" country and they won't weigh down the economy as they have the skills and merits to strengthen our economic, social, and moral fabric.
It might not broker a deal that opens our doors wider to the teeming masses that lack skills but if it resolves the status of 1.5 million plus young people and strengthens America by assuring we have 1.5 million people who were educated in our schools to help take the economy to the next level you can call it a win for everyone.
Concerns about whether we should allow more immigrants not based on merit to enter the United States can be hashed out down the road even if it means the door to them is closed a little bit more in the meantime.
Let's resolve the Dreamers issue now. That means ignoring the rhetoric which is just the art and getting down to the nuts and bolts of the deal.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.